5 Mistakes I Made as a First-Time Parent
By Selena Mills
Dec 6, 2017
Do you ever dissect your own parenting? I’m talking about real introspection, set under a microscope. Well, I do.
Some might consider this self-indulgent, but I find that a little self-analysis is a great way to tune out the noise of everyday negativity. I don't have the time to exert negative energy on things that literally don't matter, but looking inward and really thinking about how I'm doing as a parent? Well, that's something I have the time for.
Along the way, I've made mistakes. And I believe in keeping it real, because we could all use more parenting realness. So here's five mistakes I made when I had my first child. Who knows? Maybe you'll see a bit of yourself in my experience.
Buying Unnecessary Crap
Pee-pee teepees anyone? Okay, to be honest, I didn’t purchase this one. But I did receive it and I did try to use it, and it was utterly ridiculous. A parent gets used to using their words, like when you tell your kid to "gently push" or "hold to the side" during potty training. And I think this works way better than any pee-pee teepee could.
We also bought a wipe warmer, shoes, a stroller that cost more than my mortgage payment, a fancy video monitor, timers, a baby food maker and diaper bags. We stopped using the wipe warmer with our second, and we realized some other things, too: shoes are cute, but you don't need them; a baby food maker is no better than a blender; and a large purse I already owned made a fine diaper bag.
I think you get the idea — as first time parents, we really get gouged.
Caring What Other People Think
My goals as a parent are more simple as the years pass, and outsiders looking in may view my parenting groove as a series of fails. Which is fine by me. When I stopped caring about what other parents thought, and tuned in to what my kids thought about me, the better I became. The better I did. There are days I don’t take my kids’ tantrums in stride, and days that I do.
Being a Martyr
I can eat some crow and admit that there have been plenty of parenting ideals I’ve tossed out the window, and I shudder at all of the labels we give ourselves. I thought moms were supposed to be these transcendent, multi-tasking beings — bottomless reserves of calm and patience, with no time for themselves.
I thought becoming a parent meant I would never have the freedom or flexibility to pursue my own passions. And if I regularly took time for myself? I figured I would be seen as a ‘selfish mom.’
But every day I blow through my entire reserve, and it’s worth it. That’s something I wouldn’t have admitted before.
Not Trusting My Husband
Once upon a time, I could rationalize all of the ways I felt completely justified in thinking my husband was doing things wrong. But when it comes right down to it, who made me the ultimate expert of all that is proper in our parenting world?
As a mother and a nester, I’m very particular about how I do things. And of course, just to complicate matters, we are often polar opposites in how we approach parenting and nesting.
What I’ve come to realize is we've both had to make some compromises, so I have to be okay with how he folds laundry, loads a dishwasher, puts the kids to bed, packs lunches and gets the kids off to school. Just like he has to be okay with my very particular, weekly deep-clean ways.
Reading Too Many Parenting Books
When I was pregnant with my first child, you bet I was reading all of those recommended parenting books and way too many blog posts. And while some were helpful, the overwhelming effect they had on me was information overload. I cringe when I think about all of the money I wasted on books about baby sleep, toddler meltdowns, breastfeeding, feeding kids and discipline.
None of those books came close to matching the wisdom I received from other moms, or in trusting my own natural instincts.
I could prattle on about how I thought I was going to be the perfect parent all those years ago, but really, I think this is a rite of passage all parents must go through. Trying and failing, and learning from trying and failure, is part of how we stay humble and grow.
I’m eight years in now, and I still contradict myself with the occasional treat reward, and I've definitely reached brain fatigue from trying to be all things for everyone.
At the end of each exhausting, challenging and rewarding day, my love for my children is rather astounding. No matter what they say or do, I’m ready to do it all again the next day. I’m happy with the mom I've become.